Thousands of Eyes in the Dark

Various Artists
Thousands of Eyes in the Dark

Brooklyn-via-Ann Arbor label Ghostly International has been helping define the parameters of American leftfield electronic music since its founding in 1999, traversing lo-fi disco, minimal techno, post-rock, and increasingly ambitious forms of electro-pop. Thousands of Eyes in the Dark marks Ghostly’s first compilation dedicated expressly to ambient music, and it exudes the imprint’s customary immaculate taste. Across 10 tracks, the collection explores nearly as many different styles. Saariselka (American primitive guitarist Chuck Johnson and minimalist composer Marielle V. Jakobsons) revives the pedal-steel fantasia of Brian Eno and Daniel Lanois’ Apollo: Atmospheres & Soundtracks; Orcas’ Rafael Anton Irisarri and Thomas Meluch blend whispered vocals with billowing pads and the sounds of rainfall; Japanese field recordist Yosi Horikawa layers birdsong with gentle piano. Intriguingly, few Ghostly regulars turn up here, save for longtime signee Tadd Mullinix (aka Dabrye, James T. Cotton, Charles Manier), who delivers a languid synthesizer piece that falls far from his normally rugged hip-hop, techno, and EBM. Instead, Thousands of Eyes in the Dark doubles as an introduction to rising talents like Manchester’s Space Afrika, who explore the atmospheric shadow of dub techno, and Sarah Davachi, who brings an almost liturgical intensity to softly cycling organ and wordless vocals. It all kicks off with a stellar track from SK U KNO, better known as Suzanne Kraft (aka Diego Herrera): His “Cut and Faze” fuses acoustic guitars and electric feedback with sub-bass rumble of unknown origins. It feels at once familiar and strange—a fitting encapsulation of ambient music’s cozily alien appeal.

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